ASO optimization

5 Dirty App Store ASO optimization tricks

Congratulations for reaching here. If you are an iOS app developer reading what comes below you are probably looking for quick ways to get rich and cash on an iOS app that is probably not as good as it should be. If you are a professional marketer looking to see the heights some App Store ASO techniques have reached you will also not be disappointed.

Below follow some interesting and bit dirty hacks we have discovered or know someone who has discovered and tried in their App store ASO optimization strategy. They talk a little more beyond the keyword character limit, picking keywords with high search volume and low competition and other common sense techniques. Now they are yours to try them out:

Take advantage of the newly launched sub-category option on App store

Until now, there were only 24 categories (not including subcategories for games and kids’ apps) for developers to choose from. However, with iOS 8 the App Store will add subcategories to every category. This means you will have significantly more opportunity to rank highly in a selection of apps specific to what a browsing user is looking for, instead of the plethora of apps that try to fit in general categories like “Entertainment” and “Lifestyle”.

When users choose a subcategory, they will be shown the popular apps within that subcategory. This means an app like Sweet Pix, which creates beautiful printed wall hangings from your phones camera roll or Instagram, can be placed in a specific “Prints” subcategory instead of having to complete with every single type of photo editor, collage maker, wallpaper app, etc.

app store categories

Focus on the latest iOS features and updates

This is something not many iOS developers would do because it involves taking the harder and longer way most of the time. For example the new iOS 8 created a lot of buzz around it’s advanced finger print scanning technology. Chances are that if you build an app that takes advantage of this technology you will be more favoured by the App store algorithm. Add some good number of initial downloads in the preliminary period of launching your app and you may finding the winning recipe for being featured among the Top 10.

Give virtual goods. They give your app for free

This could be categorized by black Hat ASO by some. I would say – Every algorithm exists to be tested and challenged and possibly maneuverer to work for our benefit. That is how it was and that is how it will always be.

So what is this all about? You provide a free app and you provide virtual goods which the app users (in case if the app is a game) can purchase further on. If the user cannot or does not want to do purchase any virtual good, then you provide them also for free, but… they are prompted to download another app, possibly your app.

Have you poured your sweat to make an extensive market research and to build an app that people would love? Your app may be completely different or irrelevant to the app that made them download yours in the first place, so take care of that first impression. In most cases you app is simply downloaded by someone who wants to get more free virtual berries but downloads ye wanted, downloads ye got. Until the primary criteria (and weakness) of App Store ranking algorithm is # of downloads, incentivization will always be there.

Review scrapping software

Ok now I really feel dirty. Yet the following tactic is guaranteed to be used by large app publishers and that compelled me to share the following tactic with you, the little guy who may be reading this.

A dedicated software scrapes reviews from iTunes, creating a huge collection/database of fake reviews. The reviews are created from a mix of formulas that make it look slightly legit at a quick glance. These reviews are then posted to the app’s review section of iTunes.


“Excellent App, had heaps of fun. I can’t wait for the new update, I’m giving it 5 stars – luv it!”

Usually the reviews will include some type of slang like “luv it” or to try to make them more legit natural and credible… The reviews are posted from different devices, automated, and from different IPs (connections) to try to give the impression that the reviews are “real”. The desired effect is to manipulate the algorithm and try to create an increase in ranking across a certain portfolio of apps.

Try to game the paid apps category

Ok, this may work one in 1000 times or not work at all. Nevertheless we have decided to add it as bonus trick and you may be “wacked” enough to try it out (let us know if it works).

You create an app, you upload it on App Store and you charge for super insane price say $500. You prompt few of your party friends to make a purchase of the app and the app goes into Top Grossing apps for the day.

Once the app is in top position, your friends request a refund, and you, the owner of the $500 app, drop the price of the app to $0.99 to try to procure the benefits of the organic traffic you’re achieving from featured on the top list.

Can this succeed? Not likely. But it is worth of siting in your garage under a hamburger and a beer and giving it a try. Tap your own backs afterwards.

Well, this is as far as we would like to go into elaborating some creative and actually clever ways of doing what can be called as Black Hat ASO. Be our guest in comments and share some of the tactics you have used so far.